As of January 1st 2015 there is no need to register small septic tanks and sewage treatment plants as long as you are not discharging more than 2 cubic meters to ground or 5 above ground, but you will have to make sure you follow current legislation with whateve you install.
“My septic tank empties into a field and it’s starting to get very smelly when the wind blows in the wrong direction – I’m worried that someone will complain! Can you help?”
This kind of call to the UK Septic Tanks helpline on 01296 326111 is not unusual and the caller was right to be concerned – just one call to the Environment Agency (EA) from a neighbour fed up with the smell could lead to a hefty fine and the septic tank being closed down – a serious problem when you’re not connected to mains drainage.
This kind of situation also raises some important points if your property is not connected to mains drainage (or you’re buying such a property).
Until 2010 all owners of sewage treatment plants or septic tanks that discharged either to the ground or a watercourse were required to obtain ‘Consent to Discharge’ from the EA.
This all changed from 6th April 2010 when ‘Consent to Discharge’ was replaced by a ‘Permit to Discharge under the Environmental Permitting Programme Second Phase’ (known as EPP2). This meant that owners of existing systems had until December 31, 2011 to register with the Environment Agency, no matter how old their septic tank or sewage treatment plant.
At the moment there is a joint review taking place between the EA and the Government regarding the regulations, but it’s only a matter of time before every septic tank or sewage treatment plant will have to be registered under the EPP2 scheme.
So, unless already registered your system could be viewed as illegal and you could face a fine of up to £20,000. But the good news is if you’ve already got ‘Consent to Discharge’ the EA will automatically register your system and give it an ‘exempt’ status. However the bad news is that one report we’ve seen estimates that more that 90% of septic tanks in the UK do not have a current consent to discharge – just like our caller with the smelly field.
We strongly recommend that if not registered, you register under EPP2 immediately – you can either do this on-line with the Environment Agency by completing a 5 page form or UK Septic Tanks will do this for you – we are used to completing these forms and can do this for a fixed fee of £64.00 – please go to our Registration Service Page for more details.
Broadly speaking you will be granted an exemption status under EPP2 if your system meets the following criteria:
• Sewage Treatment Plants discharging up to 5m3 per day or less into surface water (27 population equivalent)
• Septic Tanks / Sewage Treatment Plants discharging up to 2m3 per day or less into groundwater (11 population equivalent)
• No trade waste
•No available connection to foul sewer within 30m
• EN12566 Certified Product
•Product maintained and/or emptied by suitably qualified person as per manufacturer manual.
•Watercourse must have dilution ratio of 8:1 and does not run dry in summer
• No discharge within 1km of bathing waters, SSSI etc (if discharging to surface waters)
Even if you’ve got Consent to Discharge, it’s looking highly likely that once the EA/Government review is completed, every septic tank and sewage treatment plant will have to satisfy EPP2. So you might want to consider registering now, while the EA is deluged with applications, rather than wait until there is no option - by which time the requirements might have become more stringent.
If you are about to purchase a property with a septic tank or sewage treatment plant you’d be well advised to ensure that it has either already been registered for EPP2 or that the current owner registers it and gets exempt status (or gets and pays for a Permit to Discharge) before you exchange contracts or complete the sale.
UK Septic Tanks believes it’s really important to start thinking now about the potential impact of the looming legislation and be sure that your system is legal – and if not, what your options might be.
If you need some free, impartial advice on this important topic then we will be pleased to discuss this with you – please call us on 01296 326111
We’ve been able to solve many problematic situations by converting poorly performing (and illegally discharging) septic tanks into sewage treatment plants which meet the regulations and can safely discharge treated effluent into a newly constructed soakaway - bringing big improvements for your neighbourhood and significant reductions in septic tank emptying costs too.